Here at Runa Capital many of us are former entrepreneurs, so we know the agonizing feeling of emailing a VC and being stuck in a holding pattern waiting for a response. Whether the silence has lasted hours or days, you begin to have nagging doubts. Did I provide the right information? Do I fit their investment mandate? Did they even read my email?
Don’t worry! There are several steps you can take to maximize your chances of a quick reply. Here’s what we recommend:
Do Your Homework
When preparing a list of investment firms to contact, screen for those that specialize in your industry, stage, and geography. Fund size and average check size are also critical components. Most VC funds put this information on their website, so there’s no excuse for skipping this step. Don’t write to a $1B+ private equity fund thinking that $100K for your seed round is no big deal to them.
It’s also important to review the portfolio companies of the selected funds. VCs will very rarely invest in two direct competitors, but it’s always a good thing if your company matches their existing investment themes (i.e. marketplaces, B2C, etc.). In addition, try to find synergies between fund’s portfolio companies and your startup. Show the VC that it’s not just a great potential investment but also a win-win-win situation for the fund, their existing portfolio companies, and, of course, for you.
Leverage Your Network and Find the Right Person
First of all, check if you have any common connections with the VC team on LinkedIn, and qualify the strength of those connections. Why is a warm intro so important? It’s all about establishing trust and providing a reference who can vouch for you. The best mutual connections are those closest to the firm. At Runa our best intros often come from our portfolio companies.
At some “generalist” VC funds you might discover a person who specializes in your industry and geography. This is the person to target, so figuring out how to connect with them is the best strategy.
The Dreaded Cold E-mail
Although a warm intro is always the best way to engage with VCs, every now and then cold emails can really work. But that doesn’t mean that after preparing your investor list you should start spamming VC inboxes at firstname.lastname@example.org. Many funds don’t even check this email inbox.
Think about cold outreach like you would filling the top of the sales funnel. It’s a low return exercise, but if you can personalize your outreach to each fund and keep it concise, you increase your chances of success. Keep in mind that your goal is to turn the intro into an initial phone screen.
It’s usually best not to address cold emails to Partners. In the best case, they may forward your email to analysts or associates, at worst they’ll just ignore them.
A Simple Pitch Is The Best One
As we’ve discussed, it’s hard enough to get a VC to even open your email, so the executive summary needs to stand on its own and provide enough detail for them to make a quick decision.
Here are a couple of hints for what to include:
- Two to three sentences describing your product, the problem you’re solving and your competitive advantages
- Detail on your largest, best-known customers and/or investors who are already onboard
- Key metrics and traction: revenues, number of customers/downloads, YoY growth, etc.
- 10–15-page pitch deck attached to the email (compressed if necessary to make the file manageable)
How Long Should It Really Take To Get A Response?
Assuming you have successfully fine-tuned your message using the tips above you will most likely receive a response within one to three days. You will either receive an invitation to an intro call, or an explanation why at this stage your startup is not relevant for the VC fund.
At Runa Capital we invest in fast-growing tech companies in the following verticals:
- Deep Tech (Middleware/Infrastructure, Cyber Security, AI, Edge & IoT, DAPPS, AR/VR, Quantum Computing)
- B2B / SaaS (Accounting, Sales Optimization, HR, Vertical Practice Management)
- Vertical / Regulated Markets (Fintech, Edtech, Digital Healthcare)
If you’re raising a Series A round and think you’re onto the next big thing, Runa Capital would love to talk to you:
Michael Fanfant, North America, email@example.com
Konstantin Vinogradov, France, UK, firstname.lastname@example.org
Ruslan Sarkisyan, Nordics, Germany, email@example.com
Konstantin Gnyp, Central and Eastern Europe, Spain, firstname.lastname@example.org
This guide was written by Konstantin Gnyp, Senior Analyst at Runa Capital and Jeff Cooperman, Principal at Runa Capital.